Travel: Time to cut back on work

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The Independent Travel
I HAVE no idea whether the world is heading into recession or not. But if it does, the response of some people will be to start cutting back on the length and frequency of their holidays.

The response of some other people, however, will be to travel not less but more. Much more.

Unemployment may cause a hole in people's bank balances, but I prefer thinking about the bright side. Think of all that free time. I know a lot of people who would gladly pay 90 per cent of their annual salary to buy a whole year of leisure. In other words, all you effectively lose by being made redundant is 10 per cent of your salary.

A mere 10 per cent? By setting off on an extended holiday I don't think it will take long to make savings equivalent to 10 per cent of many people's salaries. I know a very good ashram in Pondicherry, for example, where a meal ticket for three exceptionally wholesome meals a day costs the equivalent of around 70p. You won't need to worry about heating bills. You'll get not only bananas, brown rice, yoghurt and delicious south Indian vegetable curries to eat, but you'll also have delightfully urbane refugees from the rat races of Delhi and Bombay to keep you company.

Add on accommodation expenses of, say, another 70p for a bed in an airy dormitory and we have a total daily outlay of less than pounds 1.50. Over one year we are looking at not more than pounds 500, which you can probably pay for with the money you save on Perrier and smoked salmon and hummus sandwiches. In fact, pounds 500 still sounds like a lot of money compared with what many Indians survive on, so you needn't even worry that you will have nothing to fall back on in the event of yet harder times. There might eventually be some additional expenses (bribes for having over-stayed your visa; tickets to and from India; psychiatry bills, etc) but these can always be covered by your redundancy pay-off.

If on the other hand the thought of dropping out to India sounds a little too terminal, never forget that it is also perfectly possible to rent respectable apartments for pounds 100 a month in places like Andalusia or Sicily, places where a year of holiday is worth (I estimate) 20 per cent more fun than a year of work.

Add on another pounds 100 a month for essentials - olive oil, wine, bread, sausage and tomatoes - and we are still left with that crucial 10 per cent pleasure margin which I believe amounts to a mathematical proof that recession is not to be feared.

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